There’s always something to howl about

Archive for June, 2007

Moscow on the Delaware: Who, precisely, are the thugs wielding the guns in the New Jersey rebate debate?

Independence Day is upon us, and Cathy Jager reminds us what it is we seek independence from. The little question: Can a sleazy anti-rebate law be repealed? The big question: Is the NAR arming the opposition?

A happier note: Linked below is a clip from Moscow on the Hudson. There are better films about Communism, but perhaps no better film about the idea of Independence Day. You have time to pick it up over the weekend so you can spin it up Wednesday night after the kids have gone to bed (things were different in the 80s).

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Happy Birthday BloodhoundBlog

I have SO many posts I need to write and have not taken the time. But I just HAD to get THIS one out. 🙂

Happy Birthday BHB


Three-Hundred-and-Sixty-Five Days of the Dog: Happy birthday, Baby…

During all my running around today, I had meant to buy a silly little party hat for Odysseus to wear to celebrate BloodhoundBlog’s first birthday… but I never got around to it. And by the time I had picked up Ophelia from doggy-day-care, I’d missed my opportunity… can’t leave a dog in a 110&176; car. So on the way home I thought of the balloons Kris and Steve had sent us to commemorate the occasion (and show off their slick marketing swag… oops shouldn’t have said “show off”… didn’t I read that showing off is bad?). Anyway, when I got home, Greg voiced what I was already thinking, but he in a much more practical way, “Don’t be silly! Don’t go out any more tonight! Use Kris’ balloons, take your picture, write your post, then let’s raise a couple of glasses of Bushmills!” You see, I needed some sort of prop to take a photo of Odysseus because I love photos of my pets, and didn’t I read somewhere that you should always use photos on your blog posts? ‘Course neither hat nor balloon could guarantee a good picture, not when we’re talking about getting one dog to look into the camera long enough without other dogs and cats breaking his concentration or outright getting in the way. Anyway, here’s the best we could get:

(Sorry Kris and Steve, we couldn’t get one that shows your phone number, but you can see “erg” and the castle.)

All this just to illustrate (poorly I fear) my pure joy with being a part of this wonderful site and fabulous group, as we enter Year Two. If you’ve put up with me this far, I ask you to stay awhile longer as I share my favorite moments during the pup’s first year.

Yesterday, Greg wrote about our humble beginnings, so I’ll fast forward from there to my first honor here… being featured in Zillow’s inaugural edition of the Carnival of Real Estate. During the next few months Greg wrote a lot, I wrote a little, and Greg incorporated posts from an earlier failed blog by attributing them to Odysseus.

By September, Greg had earned a reputation among real estate bloggers as being a prolific and interesting writer, and when Ardell DellaLoggia challenged him to a “blog-off,” I encouraged him to accept. I’m not certain about Ardell nor Greg, who each posted over 100 articles in less than 24 hours, but I had a blast! The challenge was especially funny through the Property Monger, Jon Ernst’s, play-by-play chronicle.

Another gift that this pup has brought is Russell Shaw. I was tickled to sit down to chat with him, and thrilled beyond words when he agreed to become a contributor on BHB. This led us directly into the Dual Agency Smack-Down. Because he had commented in opposition to Greg’s and my view on dual agency, we asked Jeff Brown, from to join BHB as a guest, arguing on the side of Russell for dual agency, against Greg and me. Jeff honored us by staying around.

Once there were five of us (including Odysseus), we asked a few more friends of ours, who are interested in real estate, and who were sharing really interesting ideas with us via email, to contribute. Most notably, Richard Riccelli, a direct-marketing guru, wrote some brilliant articles on marketing.

In October, BloodhoundBlog hosted the Carnival of Real Estate for the first time. I think we made a lasting contribution to the CoRE that week. Being the judges was so much fun, we got to continue our campaign for more meaningful judging when we hosted the CoRE again in February.

Also in October, Greg heard from Mark Nadel, from AEI-Brookings Joint Center, who had written a white paper on real estate commissions.

Soon afterward, Greg Defended Zillow in an article that made me very proud of him, especially after his article Debunking Zillow had brought so much attention to BHB. Both articles demonstrated his veracity, with no concern about whose ox might be gored.

The energy of the group blog was exhilarating. We wanted more! Greg, who doesn’t shrink from anything (except housework), reached out to some of the most inspired bloggers in the nation, and soon we were joined by Kris Berg and Doug Quance, and then Dan Green!

Now that the Bloodhounds were a minority on BHB, we agreed on making our home a more civil one. Greg and Russell can take all kinds of heat, but I always hated what I considered graffiti in comments. So I was really pleased when BHB instituted a rigorous Comments Policy, which made it clear that we welcome guests to share their opinions, but ruffians are not welcome. With all the differing opinions that exist among our authors, a different point of view is not an insult, but an insult is…

For Christmas we got a wonderful gift: Brian Brady! And the New Year kept on giving with Michael Cook. Jeff Turner and Norma Newgent joined us briefly to leave some real gems in this treasure chest.

Then just when we really needed him, Allen Butler came on board as we began exploring podcasting. Just in time to pull Kris’ music out of her interview of Glenn Kelman from Redfin. Just in time to capture the gifts that Russell gave us with his Sales Success Seminars.

And on the tail of sound came movies! Starting with Greg’s interview on Fox News Channel, complete with a Director’s Cut!

And our family continues to grow. James Hsu lends us his technical views, Morgan Brown is our mortgage industry crusader, Lani Anglin gives us the down-home point of view of the consumer, and Jeff Kempe gives us yet another, fresh rebel-Realtor point of view.

And then there’s Teri Lussier. What an inspiration she’s been. So much so, that the work she has done with Greg evolved into the web’s first BlogBook, Real Estate Weblogging 101!

As I say goodnight to our baby blog on this celebration of its first birthday, there’s one last note I want to congratulate it on: I love the serendipity that on BHB’s first anniversary, InmanNews announced that we are among the finalists for this year’s Most Innovative Blog.

It’s been a great year. Thank you all for joining us!


Seven Days of the Dog: Old Bushmills on the rocks . . .

Today’s the day, the first day of the second year of BloodhoundBlog. We’re at 1,473 posts (which tells you that Jeff Brown killed 127 posts in draft mode), with 9,144 comments. Right at this moment we have a Technorati authority of 526, with 4,443 links from other weblogs. Yahoo is showing us with 36,243 total inbound links. We have served over 150 gigabytes of content this month, with 30 hours left in the month.

Please understand, I’m not bragging. I’m just amazed at what we’ve managed to do in a year’s time.

I did a lot of the work here, and it’s not in my nature to pretend I didn’t. But I could not possibly be more proud of the amazing people who set their shoulders beside mine and Cathleen’s to build this thing. We are each of us very strong of mind, but we are stronger because we are here together.

I had thought to write a post about past BloodhoundBlog controversies, but, honestly, who doesn’t know that this is the kennel of controversy in the

Instead, I will do something I don’t often do: I will admit to being a man and not a machine. I’m tired, and I want to have a drink. Kris Berg sent us a birthday card with balloons, but we weren’t able to schedule a time when we could get the Phoenix-area Bloodhounds together. Even so, I’ll blow up a balloon and pour myself a tumbler of Old Bushmills on the rocks.

Here’s to Cathleen Collins, Cameron Swann and Odysseus the TV Spokesmodel Bloodhound; to Kris Berg, Russell Shaw, Jeff Brown, Doug Quance and Jeff Kempe, our real estate brokers; to Brian Brady, Dan Green and Morgan Brown, our lenders; to Michael Cook, our investment guru; to Allen Butler, James Hsu, Jeff Turner, Lani Anglin and Norma Newgent; to Teri Lussier, aghast no more; and to Richard Riccelli, our gadfly genius.

And here’s to you, too, for being here with us through it all.


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Happy Birthday Bloodhound !

Maybe it’s the last day of the month scurrying. Perhaps it’s the oppressive summer heat.

Did we forget to sing Happy Birthday, Bloodhound? Enjoy a well deserved martini at Durant’s, Greg and Cathy.

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The iPhone is not just a phone, it’s the perfect mobile convergence device for cyberstalkers

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iPhone may herald a whole new way to shop for homes

This is me in today’s Arizona Republic (permanent link).

iPhone may herald a whole new way to shop for homes

Could Apple’s new iPhone have been more hyped? Maybe not, but a feature of the mobile phone announced last week could have an enduring impact on real estate marketing.

Technology vendors have talked for a decade, at least, about the idea of convergence. Some day, the telephone, television and personal computer will merge into one device through which we will pursue networked “edutainment.” TV set-top boxes get more sophisticated with each new generation, but we’re a lot closer to true convergence on our mobile phones.

Like many Realtors, I use a Treo 650 mobile phone. In addition to being able to make calls, it has Internet access and email capability onboard. Underneath all that is a Palm-OS-based personal digital assistant, a small but very powerful computer that “syncs” with my desktop computer back in the office.

It’s long been my belief that a sufficiently powerful mobile phone could replace my laptop computer. Even now, my Treo 650 is only missing one mission-critical function: I cannot directly access the MLS system through my phone.

The iPhone may be the laptop-killer for Realtors. The new version of Apple’s Safari Internet browser, to be included on the iPhone, successfully navigates the MLS system. The contract-writing software Phoenix-area Realtors use can be run through a Web-based service. Between portable, battery-powered printers, emailed PDF documents and the onset of digital signatures, a hi-tech Realtor could have a fully functioning office in his pocket or her purse.

And Apple also announced last week that the iPhone would implement the video standard. Because of the company’s marketing clout, we can expect other phone and software vendors to follow suit.

What this means in that someday soon, you will be able to drive from house to house in a neighborhood, visiting each home’s Web site and taking video virtual tours, all without getting out of the car.

When you find a home you want to see in person, your means of making contact with your Realtor will be right there in your hand.

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Google’s reciprocal link penalty for real estate sites explained

Who will be affected by Google’s real estate reciprocal link penalty? The answer in words and in pictures.

Cliff’s Notes: If you aren’t part of one of those goofy link exchanges to your static web site (we get spam for these every frolicking day), you’re not the target. Likewise your weblog. If you’re linking out like a normal web site, within and without the real estate industry, you don’t have a problem.

On the other hand, if you’re linking to hundreds of other Realtors’ static web sites, which are also linking to hundreds of Realtors’ static web sites, you could be screwed for a good long time.

Here’s a general principle: When you’re confronted with an idea that will “fool” Google — don’t do it.

Here’s an even better general principle: SEO is Plan B at best. The kind of community building we’ve been talking about here and at Real Estate Weblogging 101 is the way to grow your business on-line.

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Seven Days of the Dog: That’s no Bloodhound, that’s just a mangy old mutt!

We write a lot about real estate weblogging. We have categories on Blogging, on Blog Carnivals, on the Carnival of Real Estate and on Weblogging 101, with much of what we’ve written on real estate weblogging having been repurposed into a blog-book on the subject,

Truly, weblogging is a self-referential medium, but there is so much on the subject here that I am going to add only two items to that mass.

First, if you are graced with the opportunity to speak about real estate weblogging at your company sales meeting or whatever, if you like you can print out some of the bookmarks I made for the Southwest Real Estate Blogging Conference. They’re built to print four-up on a letter-sized sheet, with faint gray lines where they should be cut apart. The book is a very thorough introduction to the art of real estate weblogging, so your colleagues might get themselves off to a better, faster, less-costly start.

Second, I thought I would take a moment to show you where we came from. This pitiful mess, not a Bloodhound but simply a mangy old mutt, was the second of our failed attempts to start a real estate weblog. The first failure — even worse — was incinerated long ago. The posts you see there were sucked into BloodhoundBlog by WordPress, giving us a history before we had one. The first BloodhoundBlog post was People power, categorized under Blogging and Disintermediation and establishing a number of themes to which we have returned again and again. I wrote about the pre-history of BloodhoundBlog about a month after we started. The point of this is, if we’ve come this far in a year, you can, too.

Thanks for being here with us.

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The big iDea: iPhone could spawn a host of new products

This was written by my friend Mike Arst, a very clever man whom I’ve entreated for years to start a weblog.


In honor of the release of Apple’s new iPhone, which I just can’t seem to want (even though I know I should want it), today several new product names occurred to me. Having decided that I probably can’t sell them for a small fortune on eBay (iBay?), I have decided to pass them along to you instead. No charge, even.

This for someone who drops his little MP3 player: the iBroke

For folks who enjoy listening to music while they’re eating their favorite Vietnamese soup: the iPho

For workshops that are all about one’s self-esteem: the iMe

(If they’re conducted in French: the iMoi)

For people who developed a bit too much self-esteem at the workshops (and/or for people who love odd-looking little jungle prosimians): the iI

For people like me who are just plain slow, and proud of it: the iPlod

For people who hate settling for less: the iMore

Then again, for folks in the simpler-living movement: the iLess [contributed by co-worker]

For people who loved “Young Frankenstein”: the iGor

For the lonely fisherman in his boat: the iCod

For the local crows who wake us up every morning: the iCawed

For our infamous bad-tempered cat, of whom many people are justifiably terrified: the iClawed [also contributed by co-worker]

For guys who had too much to drink and got rude at a party: the iPawed

(The individual who behaves this way is the iClod)

For the ladies who had to put up (but only briefly) with such rudeness: the iSlap

(Could substitute the iClawed there)

And last but not least, a product for the marketing people who have managed with great success to persuade us [I plead guilty] that we need all this electronic stuff:

The iCon

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New Homes Sales, Market Slowdowns, and Investor Irrationality: Looks like its Time to Face a Correction

Tanking new homes sells should have real estate flippers and small investors worried. Today KB Homes reported a loss of $149 Million. Additionally, CEO Jeffrey Mezger remarked in the Wall Street Journal, “We can’t predict when market conditions will improve,” essentially ensuring investors conditions will not improve next quarter. Homebuilders have been feeling the pinch for over a year now, but it is finally getting serious.

Surface level analysis of the problems with homebuilders points to signs of a tanking real estate market and excess supply of new homes in some markets. Given the choice between a new home and a “used” home, most consumers will choose the new one. Additionally, homebuilders have the power to offer incentives like upgrades, favorable financing, and lower prices to move their inventory. Investors in hot markets that are cooling will find it hard to compete with institutions like KB Homes, Toll Brothers, Lennar, etc. This will make it tough to move, even the nicest flip.

Furthermore, this situation definitely signals a slowing in the real estate market. Despite what many have been saying on the Realtor/NAR front, investors and agents alike should be preparing for a real estate slow down. KB Homes sites access to capital as one of the mitigating factors affecting home buyers among other factors. This access issue will affect buyers, as well as more aggressive investors, who opted for no money down loans.

The deeper analysis suggests all of the negative news will eventually affect the market sentiment on real estate. Over the past six months the real estate market has seen the collapse of the subprime real estate market, issues with commercial and investment banks, mortgage rates rise, and issues with homebuilders. At some point investor and consumer confidence in real estate has to be affected by all of this news. While this news may not be the tipping point, investors should be asking how much more can the market take?

Investing is part fundamental and part irrational. At times the market seems to go 90/10 one way, and at times those proportions flip. As more negative real estate news emerges and as fundamentals weaken, the market has a tendency to overreact. These overreactions create great investment opportunities; however, it’s never fun to be on the downside of irrationality.

In part this is why the National Association of Realtors constantly insists on being up beat about the real estate market. It’s in everyone’s best interest to think happy thoughts about real estate despite the change in fundamentals. As an investor I would love to keep the market up as long as I can, but at some point all this negative news will turn investors and consumer sentiment negative. When it does, investors need to be prepared to react quickly. This could mean lowering rents, becoming more opportunistic, raising investment standards, or simply taking some time out of the market. Planning for a softer market now could save investors a lot of future headache.

8 comments a tear-down? Innovative map-search portal reconstructed as

The most-innovative little map-search in Seattle,, today relaunches as, a name perhaps more fitting for a town where you can still get a decent fixer for less than a million dollars.

The site is also launching its monetization model with this release: A fee-based referral system for users who ask to be introduced to an agent, paid by the agent. From company co-founder Galen Ward:

Agent Match lets consumers get personalized recommendations for the best real estate agents in their area, hear personal introductions from the recommended agents, and see feedback from previous clients. Where most brokerages assign potential clients in a haphazard fashion, Estately recommends three prescreened, high quality agents from local brokerages to consumers.[…] [W]e already have a few happy beta-testers and a “rock-star” team of agents from a bunch of local brokerages.

We’re selective and we’re keeping the referral fee low enough (12%) that we have been able to recruit great agents who do most of their business from referrals.

Under the name, the company pioneered a number of great ideas in map-search technology, including showing nearby parks, schools, restaurants, access to public transportation, etc. The AgentMatch idea is also an innovation, sort of an eHarmony for Realtors:

Estately’s Agent Match algorithm uses consumer answers from a brief questionnaire to match them with highly qualified, individually recruited agents who meet their needs. Consumers and agents are matched geographically, based on consumer’s needs and based on agent feedback from past clients. Consumers are shown all the feedback for each agent recommended to them. Home buyers and sellers can choose to remain anonymous until they are ready to work with an agent.

This is smart enough to be truly scary.

More coverage: The Real Estate Bloggers, John Cook’s Venture Blog.

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Jeff Brown hits the big time: Copyblogger praises Brown and Brown’s give-to-get white-paper strategy

From Brian Clark’s, guest contributer Mike Stelzner writes:

Mistake #2: On the flip side, how often do you see a white paper that is instantly displayed with the click of a link? While this provides immediate access to a reader, it fails to capture any information or make it easy for readers to sign up for your newsletter.

The Solution: What I am about to propose is a strategy that appeals equally to readers and businesses. Revisit my earlier premise, when you provide value, you gain respect.

Consider real estate investment specialists Brown & Brown. A few pages of their white paper, Achieving Early Retirement With Real Estate: Rethinking Traditional Retirement Planning, are presented before the registration form appears.

With this example, readers are given plenty of sample content before they are asked to trade their personal contact information for access.

This idea flows from the video game market. Remember playing video game demos that provided you access to the first two levels? By providing a good sample taste of the product, the hope is that people will act and want the full game. The same strategy can be applied to white papers.

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Seven Days of the Dog: The regal, indomitable arrogance of a healthy, normal Bloodhound

This came in as a comment last night.

There is nothing wrong with wanting to be competitive and wanting to win, but, reading your posts the last few weeks, you ego is a little bit too big at times. Yes, you are a heck of a writer and you have one heck of a blog and you have assembled a heck of a team of contributors, but your ego is getting a bit cocky.

This is ad hominem, so it violates our comments policy, but I’m not averse to discussing the issue it raises in a general way.

Just not yet.

First, let’s address some general beefs I have with the world of real estate weblogging. You can regard this as an impromptu staff meeting of the, or, if you’d rather, as a Pompeii-like graffito.

Here’s one: I’m seeing more and more truncated feeds, and I am unthrilled about it. My entire purpose in using a feed reader is to aggregate everything I might want to see in one place. If I’m interested in what you have to say, I might click through to your site, but I don’t appreciate being forced to do so. I understand that you may be trying to boost your hard clicks, possibly to placate your advertisers, or you might be trying to frustrate sploggers. I don’t care. If you don’t capture my attention completely in the forty or fifty words you deign to show me, there is zero chance that I will click through to see if I might be missing something good. I can’t be that different from your target reader. You got ’em to subscribe. Now deliver the goods. Hoarding — for whatever reason — is the economics of the past.

(Near the subject, I had mentioned a long time ago (in a comment or somewhere) that I almost never do trackbacks. If for no other reason than that it offers automatic trackbacks and pingbacks, WordPress should be your CMS of choice for any weblogs you build (or migrate to) in the future.)

Here’s another beef: This came in as a comment to Real Estate Weblogging 101:

I think you should make your URL’s prettier:

Optimize your permalinks – the default WP 2.0 installation displays permalinks this way: A more search-engine friendly permalink includes the post title in the link, like this: This is a simple change to make. In your WP admin panel, click on the “Options” tab, then the “Permalinks” sub-tab, and choose the option just below the “Default” permalink option. See the WordPress Codex for more on permailinks.

If you need help with that I can gladly show you the ropes.

I’m sure this is well-intentioned, and the offer to help is awfully sweet. There is really only one thing wrong with it.

What’s that?

It’s wrong.

In terms of Search Engine Optimization, the default format of a WordPress permalink is probably as good as or better than any alternative. James Brausch argues that other permalink structures actually damage search engine performance. Google certainly prefers short URLs to longer ones. And even if Google honors keywords in the URL and not just in the domain name, having the date encoded in the URL serves no SEO purpose at all.

On the other hand, coding permalinks in a way that is consistent and repeatable for human beings is of huge benefit — to those human beings. For the most part, readers are not going to type weblog links no matter how they are coded. But bloggers themselves are going to have to encode their own links again and again. The format suggested by my correspondent is far more error-prone than the WordPress default.

We go this one better by building our tools around our permalink structure. I have a keyboard macro that builds a fully-formed BloodhoundBlog link, absent only the number of the post and the anchoring text. The macro leaves the cursor flashing at the point where the number is to be typed. I can copy the text I want to anchor and remember the post number, then produce a fault-free link back into the weblog in a couple of seconds.

All that is as may be, and there is a point at which SEO debates are as interesting to me as PBS documentaries. What is interesting to me is the epistemological method that goes into making decisions. It really doesn’t make any difference how you code your permalinks, because, beneficial or damaging, any benefit or damage is going to be trivial compared to other things you can do to improve your SEO performance, notably boosting your Page Rank or writing strong posts with strong headlines (and putting your headline in your title tag).

On the other hand, coding your permalinks in a way that saves time and makes errors less likely appeals to my way of thinking. So why do so many weblogs use the format my correspondent suggested? My guess is that, rather than thinking about what might make sense in context, people mostly copied what other people were doing. Recall that the WordPress default is Why do people change it? Why do they insist, again and again, that duplicating a permalink format that contains eleven characters of completely dysfunctional date information before we even get to the possibly-completely-useless-or-even-harmful keywords — why do they echo, again and again, what could well be pernicious misinformation?

When the Project Blogger competition got started, I wrote this in email to Teri Lussier:

Seriously, everything is what it is because some idiot had to do something, had no clue what to do, bespied another idiot who seemed to be doing something right, copied that idiot and called himself an expert. No one has the first idea what they are doing, and they’re all as busy as hell doing the wrong things.

I get frustrated, but I can’t change very much very quickly. Here’s the cool part, though: The world is a wide open bank vault for people who trust themselves enough to think in their own behalf.

That seems kind of harsh, but stop for a moment and think of all the locally-focused real estate weblogs you have seen that feature photos of the hometown skyline. Do you get the idea that people are reading real estate weblogs because they want to buy skyscrapers? If you wander the Earth like Diogenes, questing and quarrying for the reasons motivating the things that people do, the answer you will come up with most often is: Monkey-see, monkey-do.

And that brings me to Project Blogger in earnest. I took time to read the contestants’ weblogs for the first time this week. This was a soporific experience. With a very few exceptions, the blogs read like those slap-happy brochures you find at the check-in counter of dismal little back-country motels. They sit there in their little take-one racks, defying you to read them, taunting you with their illimitable power to stupefy.

I am nobody’s micro-manager. There are no rules of any kind for the contributors to BloodhoundBlog, and I directed Teri’s efforts in the Project Blogger competition in only the biggest of big-picture ways. But I am very much interested in the philosophy of weblogging — weblogging as such, not just real estate weblogging — which is why we undertook our efforts in this contest in public, first here and then at

It seems plausible to me that this was time well wasted, at least as regards the other contestants.

Teri gets it, but I picked her as my apprentice because she gets it. My take on most of the other Project Blogger contestants is that they have no idea why anyone would write — or read — a weblog.

Here’s the deal, and may god help you if this comes to you as news: People do not read those brochures on the motel registration desk. They take them, thinking they will read them, thinking they might want to make time for some of the local attractions no matter how pedestrian those might be. But then they dump them in the teeny-tiny little motel trash can, or, feeling guilty for not making what in fact would be a poor use of their time, schlep them in their bags, throwing them away when they get back home.

Must I be more pellucid?: Writing inoffensive tapioca pabulum that is boring even to you as the writer will not win you an audience. You may get long tail search results from Google, but your bounce rate will be off the charts: People may find you by searching on your keywords, but they will correctly identify your stupefying prose as advertising, and they will flee at once.

You may now and then get a lead from your weblog — even a blind pig finds an acorn once in a while. What you will not do is build a community of people who are committed to you and you only for all things real estate. Brian Brady has been talking about viral marketing, but the essence of viral marketing is the “sneezer” — the person who wouldn’t ever think of not using you. Who, even better, won’t let friends or family members use anyone else. Who, best of all, actively recruits new clients for you. A true weblog is one of the best ways you have of meeting new sneezers. And a false one — false, as Emerson has it, in all particulars — is your best weapon for driving them away.

So who is at fault, the apprentices or the coaches? Have the nascent bloggers been badly advised by their coaches, or are all of them just self-selected victims of the monkey-see, monkey-do mindset? It doesn’t much matter, just as it doesn’t matter who wins this competition. Two or three of the contestants will come away with real weblogs, and the rest will have produced motel brochures without knowing where — or even that — they went wrong.

All of which brings us back to the topic with which we began. A Bloodhound’s virtues are genetic accidents, but that doesn’t make them less than perfectly admirable, whether evidenced in the dog or anthropomorphized and expressed in thoroughly conscious human behavior. Brought up right, a Bloodhound is a natural alpha, regal and indomitable. The dog will move with a lanky, un-self-conscious arrogance that is simply heart-breakingly beautiful to look upon: This what a thriving organism looks like.

I am steadfastly, philosophically opposed to the idea of humility. I think it is one of many evil ideas foisted off on us by malefactors who love us best at our absolute worst. To say to me, “You’re arrogant,” or, “you have a big ego,” is no reproach. On the one hand, it is a statement of obvious fact. But on the other, it puts me on my guard against you. A healthy, normal human being moves and acts and thinks and speaks with the lanky arrogance of a healthy, normal Bloodhound. When people don’t behave that way, I want to know why. When they affect to preach against healthy, normal human behavior, I go on defense — and not by half-measures.

The comment quoted above is nothing, just so much word salad. People repeat what they’ve been told their whole lives — monkey-see, monkey-do — for no reason they can name. They have habituated emotional reactions to behaviors they have been told since childhood are wrong without ever puzzling out what is right, what is wrong, and what their habituated emotional reactions have to do with either. None of this means anything to me. Either you can defend your position in cogent reason, or I am occupied elsewhere. I know why my lanky arrogance is better for me, in the context of my own one irreplaceable life, and there is nothing anyone can say to persuade me to hate my life in other people’s behalf.

Even so, this makes for a good lesson in weblogging. Art is social, and a secondary objective of any work of art — even a work of art as banal as a weblog post — is to elicit a response. Not simply a comment, mind you, not the enblogged equivalent of a high-five, but an authentic, heart-felt response: “Thank you so much for saying that!” “Oh, what crap!!” “I thought I was the only person who felt this way!” “Your unwillingness to kneel to the vicious trolls I affect to worship as gods leads me to unpleasant doubts about their divinity, which I am obliged to blame on you.” Oh, wait, that last was a translation of email I get all the time…

In fact, other people’s responses to your work should never be a primary consideration to you. The writing is either good or it isn’t. But if you are not eliciting emotion-laden responses from your readers, what you are doing is brochure-production, not weblogging.

But, in any case, if you feel a strong urge to tell me that I am as arrogant as a normal, healthy Bloodhound, regal and indomitable — what can I say in reply except, “Thanks!”

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A contrary point of view: “Apple iPhone debut to flop, product to crash in flames”

Surely fifty million Frenchmen can be as wrong as one, but just try getting them to admit it! David Platt makes an interesting argument about why the iPhone will fail, but, even stipulating his entire case, it seems reasonable to suppose that most early-adopters will be stout fans for at least two years — the length of the service contract with AT&T.

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